Back in December we saw the previously unheralded Tomoko Okuda (7-2-2, 1) announce herself as a world class fighter as she defeated Miyo Yoshida (14-2) and took the WBO female Super Flyweight with a technical decision over the well liked Yoshida. This coming Tuesday the women face off again with Okuda looking to repeat her career best win, and Yoshida looking to avenge her title loss and become a two time champion.
Going in to their first bout Yoshida was the big favourite. She had won 10 in a row, unified the Japanese and OPBF titles at Bantamweight titles and then moved down in weight to win the WBO title, a title she had defended once before facing Okuda. Okuda on the other hand went into the bout as a 37 year old who's most notable results were a win and a draw against former kick boxer Kanako Taniyama, with the win seeing her win the Japanese and OPBF Bantamweight titles. That win aside there was nothing of value on her record went she dropped 3lbs and challenged Yoshida, and then beat Yoshida.
The key for Okuda in the first bout was her aggression, strength and size. Although both fighters had made their mark at Bantamweight, winning domestic and regional honours, Yoshida was the naturally smaller fighter, and the much less powerful fighter. Coming in she had never scored a stoppage in 15 bouts and was very much a fighter who relied on landing shots at range, and out working opponents up close, rather than trying to hurt them. Okuda on the other hand was a strong fighter. She lacked power, but was a naturally bigger, stronger, fighter. Okuda dropped Yoshida in round 1 and really put her under pressure throughout, not caring too much about what the champion threw back. That was vital to Okuda taking home the win, and the title.
In this rematch we're expect to see more aggression from Yoshida. Her jab has long been one of her main weapons, but Okuda walked through it and the challenger this time around can't look to rely on her long punches. She instead needs to let her hands fly, break down and wear out the champion and look to make the most of being the smaller fighter. Don't fight at range, but get in and swarm Okuda.
As for Okuda she'll look to do what she did in the first fight. She'll pressure and press, and look to avoid being cut, as she was in the first bout. If she can avoid clashing heads with the shorter fighter, and avoid the cuts, we suspect she'll weather some storms, but end up taking a clear, wide decision win here after 10 rounds.
If the bouts ends early, like their first, it will be due to head clashes. Neither fighter is a puncher, neither has question marks about their chin, but head clashes are very possible again here. Sadly, as the slightly taller fighter, Okuda will end up taking the worse of those head clashes but even with that in mind we suspect her more physical style will again bee too much for Yoshida.
Prediction - UD10 Okuda.
On December 13th we'll see WBO female Super Flyweight champion Miyo Yoshida (14-1) return to the ring in the hunt of her second defense, as she takes on 37 year old challenger Tomoko Okuda (6-2-2, 1), who will be getting her first world title bout.
For Yoshida the bout will see her look to continue an excellent run of form, which has included 10 straight wins already and victories at Japanese, OPBF and world level. As for Okuda this bout will see her look to step up from Japanese and OPBF title level into world level, as she pursues the most meaningful win of her career.
Yoshida, who has been celebrated in Japan for being a successful single mother, turned professional way back in 2014. She made her debut and was then out of the ring for almost 2 years before returning in 2016 and attempted to make up for lost time. In 2016 she fought 5 times, going 4-1, and fighting in her first 6 rounds. The following year she avenged her loss, out-pointing Yuki Koseki in their second bout, before advancing to her first title fight, beating Tomomi Takano in an upset win in October 2017 for the Japanese female Bantamweight title. She quickly unified that title with the OPBF title, beating Gretel de Paz, and went on to defend both of those belts once before vacating them in 2019 to pursue a world title fight.
Yoshida's world title shot came in June 2019, when she dropped down in weight to Super Flyweight. Despite coming down in weight she impressed in taking a very wide and clear decision over Casey Morton to become the WBO female Super Flyweight champion, easily out boxing Morton. She returned to the ring 6 months later and out pointed Li Ping Shi in her first defense, as she continued to build her reputation. Since then she has moved gyms and linked up with the very well established Misako Gym with should be adding a new level of professionalism to her training.
When it comes to Okuda we're talking about a woman who debuted in 2015 and has fought every year since. Her debuted ended in disappointment, as she was stopped by Wakako Fujiwara, before reeling off a 5 fight unbeaten run, against fellow novices and limited fighters. The most notable result in that run was a draw, in late 2017, with Tomo Hayashi. She then kicked off 2018 by suffering her second loss, losing a split decision to Yoshie Wakasa. Following her second loss it would have been easy to to suggest Okuda's career was going no where, but since then she has gone unbeaten and actually gone on to claim the OPBF and Japanese female Bantamweight titles, thanks to a technical decision win over Kanako Taniyama earlier this year.
Despite winning the Japanese and OPBF titles Okuda only really has a single win of note on her record, and that's the one over Taniyama from this past January. She has yet to fight over 10 rounds, she is stepping up massively and she has never actually made the Super Flyweight limit in her career, the closest she's been was 115¾lbs 5 years ago. With those things in mind there are some real question marks over her head coming into this bout.
In the ring Yoshida's style is very much based around her straight punches, her movement, and her physical tools. She isn't the strongest fighter, or the most heavy handed fighter out there, but she is accurate, throws very good straight punches, doesn't waste a lot of energy and uses smart upper body movement and footwork to control range. Although she's got a good jab, she also knows how to work on the inside, grind opponents, and do so without taking much return fire. Her one big issue is her lack of power, though hopefully training at the Misako gym will improve that area of her boxing. She's a genuinely smart boxer, and it's clear she has an incredible will to win, inspired by her daughter.
In the ring Okuda is a wild fighter. She comes forward in a clumsy fashion, and looks to make fights messy. She's powerful, or rather she's physically strong, but she is very clumsy and awkward and happy to hold when she needs to. Like many lower quality female fighters her tactics are pretty basic and at 37 she is likely past her physical best. She's rough and tough, but really not all that skilled or talented. Saying that however at the age of 37, and with home advantage, she might be spurred for a career defining performance here, knowing she likely won't get another chance like this.
We know that a fighter being given what they believe could be their last chance can fill them with the hunger to shine and put everything into a performance. Even with that in mind it's hard to see Okuda winning. We suspect Okuda is the bigger puncher, and maybe even the physically stronger fighter, but the skills, speed, movement, accuracy, work rate, and ability all favour Yoshida. We suspect that Okuda will be hungry to shine, but won't be able to match the skills or tempo of Yoshida, who will go on to win round after round, and take a clear decision.
Yoshida can make this easy if she gets behind her jab, but even fighting the wrong fight we suspect she'll just have too much of everything for Okuda and will take a wide decision no matter what tactics she employs.
Prediction - Yoshida UD10
The final female world title bout of the decade will see Miyo Yoshida (13-1) defending her WBO female Super Flyweight world title as she takes on Chinese youngster Li Ping Shi (5-2, 2), as part of a super stacked card at the Ota City Gymnasium in Tokyo. For Yoshida this will be her first defense, after winning the title in June, whilst the 21 year old Shi will be getting her first crack at a world title, and look toe extend her current 3 fight winning run.
The 31 year old Yoshida has made a name for herself over the last couple of years, with her rise from relative obscurity to Japanese, then OPBF and now world champion, all in the space of just over 2 years. She has done so as a single mother, which the Japanese press love to remind us, and has really shown she much improvement from her early days as a boxer. She has stepped up the levels and improved every step of the way, avenging her sole defeat along the way and beating the likes of Tomomi Takano, Yoshie Wakasa and, most recently, Casey Morton.
Although completely devoid of power Yoshida is a solid boxer-mover. She likes to establish range, using her speed and movement to get in and out and ties up well on the inside. Although not a powerful puncher she is surprisingly strong in the clinch, and has pushed around the likes of Wakasa with no issue. What she does really well is time her opponents, and although he shots don't have much weight behind them they do look damaging due to how well she lands her counter shots.
Whilst Yoshida has proven her self at every level whilst climbing through the ranks the same cannot be said of Shi, who is a relative unknown, even in Asian boxing circles. She has been selected as an easy first defense, though with some momentum behind her, including a good win over Yuko Henzan last time out, the challenger will not be there to make up the numbers, and will be going in with some genuine self belief. She has had 3 wins coming into this and despite her youth she does look like a solid, confident and aggressive fighter. Like Yoshida she lacks power, but she comes to fight, and is very much the woman who is going to be pressing the action with her pressure.
Whilst there is plenty of footage of Yoshida out there, including quite a lot on Boxing Raise, the same cannot be said of Shi, though we did manage to get a copy of her 2018 bout against Hyun Hee Gil to get something of a read on her. That footage suggests that she could be a very interesting test for Yoshida, and not the gimme defense that her record suggests. She managed to regularly rush Gil, making the Korean incredibly uncomfortable through out. It wasn't a consistent rush, but it was a regular tactic that left Gil off balance and unable to really respond. A tactic that could unsettle the timing and counters of Yoshida.
We suspect that Yoshida will have to work incredibly hard to take home the win here, though we do expect her to do enough to squeak the decision. Shi will come to win, she will rush, attack and be happy to take one to land one. She's not a big puncher, but the challenger has the aggressiveness to make up for it, and her hooks are thrown with bad intent. Yoshida might be the better boxer, but she will have to take some big shots en route to a win here, and may even be hurt early on by the huge over hard rights that Shi unleashes.
Prediction - Yoshida UD10
June 19th is set to be a hectic day for fight fans thanks to a big show in Chiba. One of the many bouts on that card will see a new WBO female Super Flyweight champion being crowned, as Miyo Yoshida (12-1) and Casey Morton (8-1-3, 1) battle for the currently vacant title. For both fighters this will be their first world title bout, and potentially their only shot at world gold, given that both are the wrong side of 30.
Yoshida has been a revelation over the last 2 years or so. She debuted in 2014, in a 4 round bout, and struggled past Ayaka Sato and then took a significant break from the ring before returning to struggle past Yuko Henzan. Yoshida would win her first 4 bouts, all close decisions, before her luck ran out and she was beaten by Yuki Koseki in September 2016. Since the loss however she has gone 7-0 and shown massive improvements. Her 7-0 run has seen her avenge her loss to Koseki as well as claim the Japanese female Bantamweight title, with a win over Tomomi Takano, and later unify the title with the OPBF female Bantamweight title, which she won in 2018 with a technical decision over Gretel de Paz.
In the ring Yoshida is a good boxer-mover. She lacks power but has shown an ability to fight at a good pace, grit her teeth when he needs to and dig deep to get the win. He victory over Takano was deemed a big upset and since then her confidence has grown and grown. Sadly whilst her confidence has gotten better her competition really hasn't improved, though a win in March against Yoshie Wakasa was among her best wins to date.
At the age of 31 Yoshida is on the wrong end of 30, however Morton is the older fighter, at 35, and is also the fighter with the less impressive form coming in to this bout. The "Lady Hawaiian Punch" also debuted in 2014 and has fought consistently since then, with multiple bouts a year. She has fought not in the US and Mexico but has also been on an Asia tour, of sorts, in recent years with her last 5 bouts being spread between the Philippines and China. We mentioned her form a moment a go and that is, in part at least, due to her 2018 upset loss to Jutamas Jitpong in China, in a bout where Morton was made to look second rate to the Thai. It's also worth noting that over her last 8 she is 5-1-2, with draws against the then debuting Karla Gonzalez and the then 1-2 Samantha Salazar.
To date Morton's best win, at least on paper, is a shut out in the Philippines against Kanchana Tungthaisong, who was a shadow of the fighter she had once been and a narrow win over Japanese female Minimumweight champion Chie Higano. Both several classes below Yoshida, both technically and physically.
Morton will know this may well be her first and only chance at a world title, but she will be up against a naturally bigger fighter who is full of confidence and we suspect that size and belief will be the difference, leading to a clear decision win for Yoshida.
Prediction UD10 Yoshida
When we think of Japanese boxing success stories in Europe we struggle to find any, in fact Toshiaki Nishioka's 2005 win over Mustapha Abahraouhi in France is one of the few that Spring to mind. There is however the curios case of Switzerland based Japanese fighter Aniya Seki (34-3-2, 5), who has spent her entire 39 fight career in Europe.
The Tokyo born fighter is one of the forgotten fighters from Japan but on October 27th she may end up doing something no Japanese man has ever done, winning a world title fight in Europe.
The 39 year old Seki will be challenging Mexican foe Maribel Ramirez (12-9-2, 3) in a bout for the WBA female Super Flyweight. It's the biggest fight of Seki's 10 year career whilst Ramirez will be making her first defense, following a surprise title win in Peru in May against Linda Laura Lecca.
At the age of 39 Seki is no spring chicken and although she's not slow as such she was never amazingly fast, sharp or powerful. She does have decent boxing skills, which she has shown in her homeland of Switzerland as well as Italy and Germany. Sadly though her record says more about her competition than her ability, and she has padded her record with bouts against the likes of Claudia Ferenczi, who she has beaten 3 times.
During her long career she has notched some notable wins, over the likes of Liliana Martinez, Alexandra Vlajk and Caroline Schroeder. Sadly however her record is mostly padded and she has fallen short in her biggest bouts, against the likes of Marilyn Hernandez and Judith Rodriguez. Those loses have shown her limitations and it's clear that a win here would be the best of her career, by far.
The 32 year old Ramirez made her debut in 2009 and really has had mixed success. She began her career promisingly, with a 7 fight unbeaten run. Unfortunately however she would go from 6-0-1 to 9-9-2 with notable losses against the likes of Mariana Juarez, Esmeralda Moreno, Zulina Munoz, Naoko Fujioka and Linda Laura Lecca. Recently however she has turned things around, with 3 straight wins including a victory in a rematch against Lecca for the WBA title.
In the ring Ramirez is a gritty fighter, coming to the ring to let her hands go and force a brawl. Technically she's flawed but with a good engine, a high work rate, and a serious determination she's a hard fighter to discourage. She can be stopped and she can be out boxed but if a fighter lacks big power or great boxing skills they will seriously struggle with Ramirez.
We're expecting to see Ramirez travel to Switzerland with a burning hunger, the same hunger that she had against Lecca, and simply out work the older Seki to retain the title and make her first defense. Sadly we suspect a loss here will end Seki's career, given she is 40 in May. It's a shame that one of the few Japanese boxers to base themselves in Europe will fail to reach the top, but it does show there is a route for them. Hopefully her career shows that there is a chance for Japanese fighters to make a mark on the European scene.
This coming Saturday fight fans in Argentina will see local favourite Debora Anahi Dionicius (26-0, 6) defending her IBF female Super Flyweight title against Japanese challenger Terumi Nuki (9-2, 4). For the champion the bout will be her 11th defense whilst the Japanese fighter will be hoping to claim a world title in her second title challenger, and score a rare Japanese win in Latin America.
The unbeaten champion is regarded as one of the elite female fighters at 115lbs. Not only does she have one of the longest unbeaten records of any active female out there right now but also one of the longest reigns. She won the title way back in November 2012 and has been busy as a champion, fighting both frequent defenses and non-title bouts and staying very busy. Whilst her activity has been very impressive she hasn't often faced notable challengers, with her best wins coming against the likes of Simona Galassi, Neisi Torres and Olga Julio.
Footage of the champion shows a busy fighter, who uses uses her jab well, has good timing on her power shots and can set the pace early on thanks to her sharp and accurate jab. She might not have much in terms of power but she great stamina and seems to come on stronger the later fights go. Sge often pushes fighters back in the later stages as they feel the pace and the accumulation of jabs and body shots. The way she connects with combination is also very impressive and she seems to feed really well off the fans, who really do get behind their fighters in Argentina.
Whilst Dionicius is a long reigning champion Nuki is a fighter taking part in her second world title bout. Prior to her first shot at world level she had claimed the OPBF female Super Flyweight title, though that win aside there was nothing of any real note on her record. In her sole world title fight she was widely beaten by WBC female Bantamweight champion Mariana Juarez, but did give Juarez some questions and took a couple of rounds from the Mexican. Not only did she take some rounds off Juarez but proved to be tough, and have a good work rate.
Sadly for Nuki she is very limited. She's slow of foot, defensively open and although she has an impressive will to win she isn't skilled enough to really compete in a boxing contest at world level. In a fight, a true brawl, she could potentially holder her own but in a boxing contest she lacks the nuances to hold her own at the top level.
We expect Nuki to have her moments here, but the reality is that Dionicius will out box her and take a clear and wide decision win over the Japanese challenger. The champion will be too busy, too skilled and too quick for the challenger here.
Whilst boxing, at it's heart, might be a combat sport where participants get hit in the face some fighters do do well outside of the sport based on their looks. It's shallow and ignores their skills but it's certainly something a lot of fighters, especially female ones, have made a part of their careers in recent years.
One of the fighters who has certainly attracted a lot of attention is Japanese fighter Tomomi Takano (8-1, 5) who moves up in class this coming Wednesday to take part in her first world title bout. The gorgeous Japanese fighter will be up against the more proved and much more experienced Argentinian world champion Daniela Romina Bermudez (17-3-2, 5), the current WBO female Super Flyweight world champion.
The 28 year old Japanese fighter took up boxing late in life and although she's not rounded off her skills there is a lot to appreciate about her. Physically she has the build to be an excellent boxer. She's tall, long, rangy and in fantastic condition. If she had taken to boxing at a young age she could have rounded off her skills to develop and excellent jab and move gameplan that could have taken her far.
As it is Takano's not a terrible fighter. She's not the accomplished fighter that she could have been but she's improving all the time and is a fighter who scarcely resembles what she once was. She's not the most powerful but she now knows her way around the ring, she knows how to box and she knows how to use her physical traits to her advantage, though she's perhaps not able to do it against good competition.
As for the champion she's a real fighter who has been a professional for more than 5 years and mixed with some excellent opposition, including Edith Soledad Matthysse, Yesica Yolanda Bopp, Mayerlin Rivas, Linda Laura Lecca and Venesa Lorena Taborda. Whilst it's fair to note that she has lost to Bopp, twice, and Matthysse she has been mixing with success against very good competition.
In the ring Bermudez is a fighter. She can box but she's a gritty fighter who is likely to find the test of facing Takano and interesting one. She's the much small fighter but is one who will likely apply pressure from the off and look to get inside where she can go to work, if she can do that she'll be letting her hands go and breaking down the challenger.
Before we get on to our prediction we do need to note one more thing. Takano's weight. Stood at close to 5'10, and having fought as high as Super Bantamweight, we know she'll struggle to make 115lbs for this bout.
Given what we know about Takano, he struggles to make weight and her loss, a stoppage to Kei Johnson, we have to favour Bermudez to simply wear her down. The champion may not be a puncher but she will, simply, be too good for Takano.
We know many fight fans, especially those in the west, don't think highly of female boxing. Fans, for whatever reason, tend to feel that female boxers lack the fundamental skills of their male counterparts and that sport is certainly a man's only world.
Despite that thought being prevalent in the UK and the US we tend to disagree fully and in fact we recommend every fan who thinks female boxers are limited to watch Naoko Fujioka (11-0, 6), a fighter whose skillset is similar to that of some top male fighters and her domination is nothing short of impressive.
Fujioka, the current WBA female Super Flyweight champion, impressed us all last year when she ditched the WBC female Minimumweight title in search of a challenging opponent. Fuijioka's search lead her to Naoko Yamaguchi, a bigger fighter with a reputation as being a monstrous puncher. Despite being the smaller fighter jumping up the weights Fujioka dominated Yamaguchi, dropping her once on route to a very clear decision victory.
On July 7th Fujioka will be attempting to make the first defence of her Super Flyweight title as she takes on the younger, taller, naturally bigger and fresher Tomoko Kawanishi (9-1, 4) in a bout that is very interesting looking despite our very genuine admiration of Fujioka and her skills.
Fujioka, at 38, is a fighter who is likely to begin showing signs of declining in the ring. She looked sharp, fast, powerful and excellent last time out but we know fighters do become worse with age and we're unsure how long Fujioka will remain the fighter that we love watching.
At just 27 Kawinishi is not just younger than the champion but she is more than a decade younger than Fujioka. She also boasts a staggering 5" of height advantage and began her career fighting at Bantamweight, some 13lbs heavier than where Fujioka made her name. That sort of natural size and youth will certainly do Kawanishi the world of good as long as she can use those advantages, keep her jab busy and effectively force Fujioka to break inside of her reach.
One thing was cannot say about Kawanishi is that she is experienced or proven. He most telling bout was her sole loss, a decision loss to the hard hitting Riyo Togo. She proved her toughness in that bout and gave Togo a very tough fight but, in fairness, Togo is a crude slugger whilst Fujioka is a skilled boxer-puncher and the two cannot really be compared together.
Whilst we know plenty about Fujioka who combines excellent pure boxing with speed and power we don't know nearly as much about Kawanishi. From what we have seen of her though she's a fighter who uses her reach well, fires off a busy jab and has sharp hooks, however her defence looks limited and she doesn't look anywhere near as rounded as Fujioka. There is talent there but it lacks the polish that she likely needs to reach make her advantages count against a fighter with Fuijioka's skills.
In our eyes this will be a fight that starts competitively with Fujioka learning to cope with the size disadvantage for the first round or two. As soon as the champion figures out the size of the challenger she will begin to dominate and quite probably break down the challenger inside the distance in a very interesting bout that shows just how good Fujioka is. Kawanishi will almost certainly bounce back from a loss to such an accomplished fighter as Fujioka, and will likely win a title down the line, but this isn't her time, she lacks the experience at the highest level and the polish to over-come a fighter as exceptional as the champion here.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Whilst many boxing fans will be turning their attention to the FujisanMesse to watch Ryuji Hara's OPBF Minimumweight bout with Donny Mabao their is also an OPBF female title bout in the IMP Hall in Osaka. This bout, an over looked one for the OPBF Super Flyweight title, will see the once beaten Tomoko Kawanishi (8-1, 4) fighting against Thailand's Jubjang Lookmakarmwan (3-6).
Kawanishi is the defending champion and will be making the second defense of her title having won it last year by stopping
Although relatively unknown by boxing fans at large Kawanishi is a talented and brave fighter who has already shared the ring with some very credible fighters, including Riyo Togo, the only woman to have beaten her, and the then unbeaten Tamao Ozawa who was stopped inside a round.
With very credible power, good skills and real determination Kawanishi is going to be hard to beat and in fact only Naoko Fujioka would be clearly favoured over her in regards to Asian fighters in and and around the 115lb division.
In Jubjang we have a fighter whose hopes really can be written off before the first bell. The 25 year old Thai has lost her last 6 bouts and is currently without a win since August 2008. This would suggest that Jubjang isn't really suitable for an OPBF title fight, especially not with someone as talented as Kawanishi.
Although we're sure the Thai will put up a good fight we can't help but view this as an easy "gimme" defense for the Japanese fighter who is likely to move into world class in the next year or two.
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.